The answer in many ways to a consumer’s prayers, buying a car online can circumvent many of the unpleasant aspects of purchasing a new vehicle. On the other hand, this method also bypasses a number of factors key to getting the car you need. Thus, the questions become: Does the convenience outweigh the necessities, and should you really buy a car online?
Online Shopping Advantages
The biggest plus of buying online is it pretty much eliminates the hours spent in a dealership haggling back and forth over the price of the car. You’ll deal with the Internet sales manager who will give you a quote they know you’re going to shop around. As a result, those numbers tend to be quite competitive right off the top.
Given the vast majority of the shopping process should be done online when you buy a car anyway, conducting the financial aspect of the transaction that way just makes good sense. After all, if you’re shopping the smart way, you’ll accomplish the lion’s share of your research on the net. Once you’ve determined your price range and figured out what type of car is best suited to your needs, you’ll spend most of your time on the Internet getting to know the models best suited to your situation.
This affords you the ability to examine each vehicle on your own terms, getting to know their features, options and capabilities, without some hungry person talking you up on what they have at the expense of everything else. Even better, you can keep your focus in your price range, rather than having something more expensive pushed upon you by someone who is more eager to earn a commission than adhere to your needs.
Online Shopping Disadvantages
The biggest drawback here is you’ll eventually have to go to a dealership to test drive the models in which you are interested. There’s really no way around that one, other than forgoing the opportunity — which is a very bad idea. The only way to tell if a car you’re considering is right for you is to drive it.
How will you know if you can see out of it well enough to feel safe driving it? How can you know if the seats are comfortable? How could you compare noise levels on the highway? How would you establish how easily the car handles in city traffic and how readily you can park it? The only way to make these judgments is to test drive the car, and the best way to test-drive a lot of new cars expediently is to visit dealerships.
There’s another thing you need to consider when you buy a car: service.
While the car is under warranty, you’ll likely take it to a dealership for any repairs or recalls that might come up. The best salespeople introduce their customers to the service manager at the dealership as part of the purchase process. Granted, you could meet this person on your own, but it’s nice to have an introduction just the same. This will usually already have been done when you purchase offline.
So … Should You Really Buy a Car Online?
Given the pros and cons, the logical move is to combine both methods.
Conduct your research on the ‘net. Visit dealerships to test-drive your choices. Contact Internet sales managers to avoid haggling. Take delivery at the dealership of your choice, after finalizing as much of the paperwork as possible on the net. Meet the service manager, let the salesperson walk you through the various features, and you’ll be good to go.
All with a minimum of fuss, stress and bother.
In other words, yes, you really should buy a car online — but be sure you visit a dealership to test drive it and pick it up.
Photo Credit: stock photo
Karen Kinnane says
We use a combination of hunting online to get a good price and then going to the dealers with the best deals. If we find a vehicle we like, we then negotiate the price in person and always get a better deal than the online price.
1. Go late in the month when dealers may need to make a sales quota and are willing to deal to make the sale by the end of the month.
2. Go prepared to walk away from the purchase if necessary.
3. There is nothing like old fashioned belly to belly haggling at the dealership to get the best price. After all you already have their internet price and you are at the dealer who would see you as a bird in the hand and not want you and your money to get away.
4. I collect airline miles so I INSIST, AFTER the price is finalized, on using my credit card for as much of the payment as they will allow. This is usually $5,000. See if you can bump it up to $5,500. or $6,000 to get extra miles.
5. We pay cash for vehicles. Once the dealership was nattering on and on about financing (We had gotten an excellent price and they wanted a way to make more money off the sale.) We examined the contract and there was NO PREPAYMENT PENALTY. The dealer offered another $1,000. off if we would finance. So I financed, paid about $220. interest in the first payment and then PAID OFF THE LOAN IN FULL WITH NO PENALTY before the second payment was due. This got us an extra $780. off the cost of the van.
The EASE of online purchase of a vehicle seems to me to guarantee you will not got the best deal. Why are dealers pushing online selling? The answer is because you accept their price!
More hints? If you’re a woman go with a man and let him do the negotiating, consulting with you privately along the way. On the whole car salespeople are men and they give better deals to men. Why worry about this and fume? Get some guy to go with you and brief him in advance what the strategy is. For reasons I can’t understand many men ENJOY car shopping, work with this!
Another hint, AFTER the price is finalized, go over the car with a fine tooth comb! We finalized our last deal at the end of the month in a torrential downpour. The salesman did not want to go out in the rain for us to examine the van so we agreed to pick up the vehicle the next sunny day, and that if there was any damage they had not mentioned, they would lower the price to accommodate the damage. Lucky for us when the sun came out we discovered some minor paint issues and a nick in the vinyl covering the dashboard which did not effect the running or the longevity of the vehicle and we got $250. more dollars off the price!